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Comment Re:Samuel R. Delany (Score 1) 1130

I personally think that Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand is one of his finest works, but it's not a light read. If you can breeze through an Iain M. Banks novel without too much trouble, try it.

Note that most editions state that it's the first part of a diptych. Sadly, this is unlikely to ever be completed.

Comment Re:Terry Pratchett (Score 1) 1130

If you haven't read Pratchett's two early SF works, Dark Side of the Sun and Strata, you're missing out. For all Pratchett's fame, I'd count those two works as underappreciated.

And I've often said that Sterling's The Artificial Kid is like reading alternate chapters of an Iain M. Banks novel (so you only get the one story), ten years before Banks really hit the scene.

Comment My list (Score 1) 1130

If you extend that to "... underappreciated by modern audiences", I can think of a few.

There's Keith Laumer, who was huge in his day and then largely forgotten until Eric Flint and David Weber (and friends) re-invigorated his work, particularly the "Bolo" series.

James H. Schmitz wrote some cracking stuff, which has also recently been rediscovered by the Tor crowd.

James Tiptree Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon) is better known, but still fairly obscure to the modern SF reader.

Christopher Priest has also had recently renewed interest, almost entirely due to the film version of The Prestige, but he wrote a bunch of other goddamn weird, dark, depressing books.

Lloyd Biggle Jr. wrote some marvellous gently humorous stuff - his Cultural Survey novels are particularly good.

Clifford D. Simak is another acknowledged master of the genre who seems to get short shrift in modern SF collections.

But my own pick for Most Underappreciated would be Janet Kagan, who wrote a heap of short fiction, two utterly superb standalone works, and a Star Trek TOS novel, and then tragically died in 2008. I personally think she's as good as Lois McMaster Bujold, and had she lived to keep writing, she might be better known.


Why Creators Should Never Read Their Forums 221

spidweb writes "One full-time Indie developer writes about why he never goes to online forums discussing his work and why he advises other creators to do the same. It's possible to learn valuable things, but the time and the stress just don't justify the effort. From the article, 'Forums contain a cacophony of people telling you to do diametrically opposite things, very loudly, often for bad reasons. There will be plenty of good ideas, but picking them out from the bad ones is unreliable and a lot of work. If you try to make too many people happy at once, you will drive yourself mad. You have to be very, very careful who you let into your head.'"

Comment Re:Not necessarily without deception. (Score 4, Informative) 430

Addtional: The researchers themselves note something along the lines of what I'm talking about:

The placebo response in this trial (59% on IBS-AR) was substantially higher than typical reported placebo responses of 30–40% in double-blind IBS pharmaceutical studies. [15] This finding seems counterintuitive. We speculate that it is an indication of the credibility of our open-label rationale. Patients in our study accepted that they were receiving an active treatment, albeit not a pharmacological one, whereas patients in double-blind trials understand that they have only a 50% chance of receiving active treatment. It may be that one hundred percent certainty that one is receiving the “treatment of interest” (in this case open-label placebo) is more placebogenic than a fifty percent probability of receiving an inactive control.

Comment Re:Not necessarily without deception. (Score 1) 430

Perhaps "implicitly deceptive" is too strong a phrase. My argument is that the phrasing promoted the measurably effective placebo effect, rather than the inert nature of the pills themselves. I'd be interested to see some sort of companion study where the patients were told "These are completely inert sugar pills, they will have no physiological effect on you."

Incidentally, my objection may be beside the point. I read some time ago someone (possibly Ben Goldacre) arguing that one could potentially use placebos ethically in general practice, provided they were delivered with sufficiently careful phrasing. This study seems to be a verification of that idea.

Comment Not necessarily without deception. (Score 4, Informative) 430

From the actual study, the wording used to present the placebos to the patients seems to have been very carefully chosen to be utterly truthful, yet implicitly deceptive:

...open-label placebo pills presented as “placebo pills made of an inert substance, like sugar pills, that have been shown in clinical studies to produce significant improvement in IBS symptoms through mind-body self-healing processes”


Estimating Game Piracy More Accurately 459

An anonymous reader tips a post up at the Wolfire blog that attempts to pin down a reasonable figure for the amount of sales a game company loses due to piracy. We've commonly heard claims of piracy rates as high as 80-90%, but that clearly doesn't translate directly into lost sales. The article explains a better metric: going on a per-pirate basis rather than a per-download basis. Quoting: "iPhone game developers have also found that around 80% of their users are running pirated copies of their game (using jailbroken phones). This immediately struck me as odd — I suspected that most iPhone users had never even heard of 'jailbreaking.' I did a bit more research and found that my intuition was correct — only 5% of iPhones in the US are jailbroken. World-wide, the jailbreak statistics are highest in poor countries — but, unsurprisingly, iPhones are also much less common there. The highest estimate I've seen is that 10% of worldwide iPhones are jailbroken. Given that there are so few jailbroken phones, how can we explain that 80% of game copies are pirated? The answer is simple — the average pirate downloads a lot more games than the average customer buys. This means that even though games see that 80% of their copies are pirated, only 10% of their potential customers are pirates, which means they are losing at most 10% of their sales."

Comment Re:The eye adapts slowly (Score 1) 133

... usually while driving.

That's the problem with this and every other UV adaptive lens treatment: Glass (like, for example, your windscreen) blocks UV.
So, they don't actually work when you're driving.

This is why I always get frames with clip on sunglasses with my glasses. Although, since I always end up losing the sunglasses part within a year, I'm considering just lashing out and getting prescription sunglasses.

Comment Five Fingers (Score 1) 776

I've got a pair that I had a friend bring back from a trip to the US. I love them, but if you're one of the genetic freaks like me who has a longer second toe, they can be a little uncomfortable. Mine have stretched to fit, but it took a while.
If you can, I strongly recommend you do a test fitting in a store before buying, as the sizes are not quite the same as standard shoe sizes. The guide on their website is pretty good and worked for me, although this guy thinks it's a bit off.

Also, one of the other toes is coming apart due to some dodgy stitching, but it's past the 90 days return and in the wrong country, so I'm out of luck with that.
(I seem to have had a run of bad luck with Vibram - the Vibram soles of my expensive hiking shoes have recently cracked across the middle).

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Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy